Best Non-Toxic Top Coat Sealer For Painted Terra Cotta Pots

What Is Best Non-Toxic Sealant Top Coat
For People & Our Furry Friends?

Cats4 asked:

Hi! I very recently found your website, signed up for your newsletter, and just registered for the forum – everything is great and very informative!

I’m going to try painting some new terra cotta flowerpots, and I’d like some advice on what to use for a top sealer coat – I’d like something that will be very shiny and glossy, but hopefully not too dangerous or toxic. I have 4 nosy elderly housecats who try to “help” me with everything, and while I won’t be letting them have access to my supplies or “help” me, I’m sure they’ll be close by – I don’t have anywhere (separate room) to work where I can shut them out. I think it would be safer for me to use some kind of brush-on top coat rather than a spray, because I don’t want the cats inhaling the spray residue that would fall through the air while I’m using it.

I realize anything I use that will provide a shiny protective coat won’t be completely “non-toxic”, as far as ingesting it, but can you suggest anything relatively easy to work with that won’t create bad fumes in my work area? Although I’ve worked with acrylic paints on other projects I’ve never done any that required a shiny sealer coat, so I’m real new at this! Thanks so much for your wonderful site and any help you can give me! Cats4

My answer:

Hi Cats4:
Thanks for all the compliments and for posting your questions. I too have cats, BTW  🙂

As far as a “non-toxic” top coat, you’re right, you really can’t get 100% non-toxic, however some are worse than others. I think that the problem with clear top coats, at least from what I know (and what I just now researched to refresh my memory), is that brushable types are harder to come by than spray types, such as the Krylon brand clear coats.

There are brushable glossy clear coats that are meant for use on masonry and concrete (Home Depot’s “Behr” brand has one that I know many ‘tufa makers say is great to seal ‘tufa and concrete, and is ultra glossy.) Now, maybe that product will be OK to use on a painted surface too — you’d have to read the bottle and maybe pick the mind of the paint dept. employee (if the person really knows about the products … the new H-Depot here is, well … some of the sales people aren’t too qualified to be working in their departments, if you know what I mean!  😕  )

You could get a brush-on polyurethane sealer, and there are glossy types available. Just make sure the type of paint you are using is compatible with the polyurethane sealant.

But, is there a reason you can’t go outside to spray your pots? It doesn’t take them that long to dry enough so you could carefully bring them back indoors to let them continue to “cure”. Heck, I’ve been known to prop a 5-gallon bucket upside down on our front lawn, put a piece of newspaper over that, place the pot I need to spray with clear coat on top of that, and just start spraying! After about 15 minutes or so you could move it indoors to continue curing, like I said before.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention!

Does any of this help you? I hope so. Good luck with the project!

And then Cats4 replied back:

Hi Claudia,
Thanks for replying and for researching my question, too! I can do some of the work outside in the good weather, but I was thinking of the long cold winters when I hope to have time to do alot of painting – I live in Michigan. I also don’t want little bugs getting stuck on the pots – I love all living creatures, yes, even bugs! And lately there have been oodles of white fuzzes going through the air from some tree in the area. But for now I can do my sanding outside, and the “sticky” work inside our camper.

I decided to experiment – couldn’t get either Kilz brand primer or Krylon clear coat spray at the main store I use (Larson’s), but bought a gray outdoor primer and a clear gloss spray top coat of another brand (can’t remember name) that the store carried. The man said many people use this clear coat for outdoor things they’ve painted, over acrylic paint, so I’ll give these things a try on a couple of pots – see how they work. If I’m not happy with how my first pots turn out, I’ll still have time to experiment with other products before cold weather. I also plan to go to the one little hobby shop in my city to see what they might have, as far as a brush-on top coat, although I might be so happy with the results of the spray type that I don’t want to change!

You’re right about the “necessity/mother of invention” thought – made me realize that if I need to I can take the painted pots to my Mom’s house for spraying in the winter – no pets there!

I’ll let everyone know how it goes with my pots – if things work out with these products I’ll list their names (everything’s out in the garage right now and I just can’t remember). Thanks again for the tips – I have your website in “My Favorites” on the computer, so I can get to it fast! Cats4

And my final comments to her:

Hi Cats4:
Glad some of my ideas helped. Yes, please let us know what products work for you. Never hurts to discuss the pros and cons of how different things perform for us in our projects. Plus, like you’ve mentioned, sometimes certain brands are not available everywhere.

FWIW … I grew up in Michigan and I remember those cotton “fuzzies” flying through the air! Made our lawns almost look like it had snowed. 🙂   Cottonwood trees … right?

Oh … and about the primer. Though Kilz is a great product and does what it says … I have many pots that have been outside for years (terra cotta and poly-resin ones) that I just used a neutral color acrylic paint on for the base coat. Just mentioning it as another thing you can use. But Kilz might afford a little better base coat for your top coats.


  1. Taylor Thomas says:

    I love the theme you used for this blog. Is it custom made and is it available free? If you would reply with where I can obtain a identicle theme, I would owe you one.

  2. Taylor: Hmmmm … seems the “Theme” link, which should direct to the site of the developer of the blog template, at bottom of my blog no longer works – the developer changed the URL (guess i need to fix that) … anyway, I am using the Elegant Grunge theme but the modified version which was modified by another developer. Here is a link to the information:


  1. Pack Stars Blog says:

    Glossy Coat Spray…

    […] rush-on polyurethane sealer, and there are glossy types available. Just make sur […]…

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